Piano yesterday

Lectures and seminars as part of the “Piano yesterday” series are organized by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, partner of the Piano Congress

History of the piano

The scheduled lecture focuses on the origin of a new instrument which has earned a name of grand piano throughout centuries, the development of its construction and the connection to keyboard’s music evolution. The lecture will also include the expose on the instrument’s position in music culture in its relatively short life (approx. 320 years). The main part of the lecture explains the use of the most essential inventions implemented in this instrument in its constructional evolution. Some elements of terminology associated with antique, historical and modern instruments will also be included yet this section is dependent on the time available.

Benjamin Vogel – Professor Emeritus of the University of Szczecin (Chair of Artistic Education) and Associate Professor at the Institute of Musicology, Lund University, Sweden. Specialises in instrumentology. A graduate in musicology at the University of Warsaw (1973), where he received his PhD in 1977 (Musical instruments in the culture of the Polish Kingdom 1815-1914, Kraków 1980) and habilitated in 1988 (The Polish piano. The construction of pianos on Polish territory from the mid 18th century to World War II, Warsaw 1995), and where he was employed until 1994. He is also the author of Dictionary of violin makers active on historical and current Polish lands and of Polish violin makers active abroad until 1950 (Szczecin 2007; 2nd ed. Bydgoszcz 2019) and of catalogues: The Andrzej Szwalbe Collection of Historical Pianos in Ostromecko (Bydgoszcz 2016) and The Collection of Historical Pianos of the Museum of Industrial History in Opatówek (Opatówek 2020); articles in professional journals in Poland (“Ruch Muzyczny”, “Muzyka”, “Rocznik Chopinowski”) and abroad (“Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society”, “The Galpin Society Journal”, “Svensk Tidskrift för Musikforskning”), dictionary and encyclopaedic entries (Encyklopedia muzyki, PWN; Encyklopedia muzyczna PWM; Polski Słownik Biograficzny; Encyklopedia Gdańska; Encyklopedia Szczecina; Encyclopedia of Keyboard Instruments, New York 1994; Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart, ed. 2, Bärenreiter 1999-2007; The Grove Dictionary of Musical Instruments, 2nd ed., Oxford 2014). Co-author of the National Institute of Music and Dance web portals Polish Folk Musical Instruments (2014), Piano in Polish Collections (2015) and Violin in Polish Collections (2016). Member of the Polish Composers’ Union, the Union of Polish Violin Makers, the American Musical Instrument Society and Svenska samfundet för musikforskning, as well as member of the Programme Council of the Fryderyk Chopin National Institute (2007-2011) and honorary member of the Association of Polish Piano Tuners.

Event partner

Lecture: 3 September (Saturday), 9.00 am, Universe 1

Main problems and challenges in the reconstruction of pianos from Chopin’s era

This will require a description of the nature of Chopin’s instruments and the situation of piano manufactory between 1820 and 1850 as a preamble. In the main part I will talk about the typical demages, methods of restoration and the importance of the proper material.

In 1993 the pianist and further master craftsman of pianobuilding Gert Hecher founded a workshop in order to restore historic pianos, which since 2000 is called Klavieratelier. This institution is specialized on historical and early modern pianos. Since this time he and his team have restored and traded pianofortes from ca. 1780 to the second world war. He is especially focussed on grands with Viennese mechanic, but also on french pianos.
The pianos of the Klavieratelier are often used in concerts, e. g. in the famous Golden Hall of the Viennese Musikverein, in the Viennese Konzerthaus or in important festivals and also for recording productions, played by importand and famous players. Gert Hecher himself still appears as pianist from time to time.

Event partner

Lecture: 3 September (Saturday), 11.30 am, Universe 1

The specificity of Camille. Pleyel pianos in F. Chopin’s period in Paris

Description: 
– Introduction: Intimate relationship between the Pleyel pianos and Chopin
– Main content  

1. The characteristics of the sound with references to historical sources
– Evidence from Chopin’s letters
– Commentaries by musicians and critics of the time 

2. What factors contribute to the creation of such sound
– An evolution from the pianino (the first ones were produced at the same year of Ignace Pleyel’s death) to grand piano 
– Research on the Pleyel pianos that have kept the original material and structure (e.g. 3 pianos of 1844: Rossini’s Pleyel in Bologna, Italy etc.)
– the mechanics
– the felt (the material used, the density and size) with demonstration

3. Historical context of music making at the time
– performances mainly took place in salons for a relatively small audience (still very much influenced by the tradition from the 18th century)
– the design of the Pleyel pianos was ideal for such settings
– Chopin always prefers to play in salons for a small circle of friends (eg. Eugene Delacroix etc.)

Amerigo Olivier Fadini: Harpsichord maker, and pianoforte restorer who specializes in instruments from the romantic period. He has conducted a wide range of researches, particularly on the pianos manufactured by Pleyel & Cie under Camille Pleyel.
In 2007, he made a first study of F Chopin’s Pleyel pianino in Majorca. This led him to advance his research with a focus on hammer felt made by Pleyel.
In 2010, he restored an important Neapolitan harpsichord from the 18th century, as well as numerous Pleyel pianofortes, including the one that had belonged to Caroline Bonaparte. Instruments restored by him had been used for making several recordings and videos: Un hiver à Majorque: Préludes, Nocturnes, Mazurkas by Chopin performed by Aya Okuyama on a Pleyel Pianino from 1838; Chopin: Œuvres pour violoncelle & piano performed by Ophélie Gaillard and Edna Stern using a Pleyel piano from 1843; other recordings were made by renowned artists including Tobias Koch, François Verry, Davide Perniceni, Alain Planès, Ludovic Van Hellemont and most recently, Yves Henry (Chopin à Nohant – La Chambre Enchantée ed. Soupir 2022 performed on a Pleyel piano from 1839).
In 2015, he was invited to Kraków by the Jagiellonian University to study two important Pleyel pianos: one owned by Jane Stirling, the other owned by Countess K. Potocka. He restored the Pleyel pianino No.10112 which was once belonged to Countess Obreskoff, a close friend of Chopin. The restored pianino was first used in a public recital performed by Alexei Lubimov on 10 th August 2018 in Warsaw organized by the Chopin Institute. The recital was to present the 1 st International Chopin Competition on Period Instruments, which was held in September that year.
In 2019, he also restored a Pleyel piano from 1851 for the Frédéric Chopin and George Sand Museum in Valldemossa, Spain. His research into the precious Pleyel Pianino No. 6668, which Chopin used in the winter of 1838/39 to finish composing his Preludes, was published in Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger’s book Autour des 24 Préludes de Frédéric Chopin.
Currently, he is restoring a Pleyel piano from 1844 for the Nohant Festival Chopin in France.

Event partner

Seminar: 3 September (Saturday), 2.45 pm, Room Universe 1

Fixing the basic problems of Viennese pianos

We will compare different Viennese actions, and discover their basic requirements. The discussion will be about safety in removing the action, a demonstration of common regulation and repair procedures.
Please note that any time during congress technicians might make appointments for individual consultation at McNulty fortepianos stand, where Paul McNulty and his assistant Sergei Kramer will explain practicality of romantic and classical time fortepiano regulation and tuning. ask their questions and get individual answers and try things.

Paul McNulty is a maker of world-famous fortepianos known for their best performance quality. He became interested in instrument building after studying music at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and graduated in piano technology from North Bennet Street Industrial School in Boston, where he earned guild qualification as a tuning examiner.

Paul McNulty made more than 300 fortepianos. His copies of Silbermann, Stein, Walter, Hofmann, Fritz and Graf are used for concerts and recordings in most prestigious concert halls and opera houses, owned by prominent players and leading music institutions, such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Paul Badura-Skoda, Malcolm Bilson, Ronald Brautigam, Warsaw Chopin Institute, Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Paris Opera and Glyndebourne Festival as well as Cornell, Oberlin, Stanford, Harvard, etc. 

Paul McNulty was first in modern times to build Pleyel 1830, Boisselot 1846, Streicher 1868 and Chopin’s Warsaw piano, 1826 Buchholtz. Paul McNulty’s current efforts are restoring antique French pianos for the Warsaw Chopin Institute.

Event partner

Seminar: 3 September (Saturday), 5.15 pm, Room 1

The process of building of the copy of Buchholtz piano (presentation and film)

In this presentation, building a new Buchholtz, we will show film documentation of this project, analyse the features of Buchholtz construction and discuss the workshop requirements for this type of work.

Paul McNulty is a maker of world-famous fortepianos known for their best performance quality. He became interested in instrument building after studying music at Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore and graduated in piano technology from North Bennet Street Industrial School in Boston, where he earned guild qualification as a tuning examiner.

Paul McNulty made more than 300 fortepianos. His copies of Silbermann, Stein, Walter, Hofmann, Fritz and Graf are used for concerts and recordings in most prestigious concert halls and opera houses, owned by prominent players and leading music institutions, such as Nikolaus Harnoncourt, Paul Badura-Skoda, Malcolm Bilson, Ronald Brautigam, Warsaw Chopin Institute, Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Paris Opera and Glyndebourne Festival as well as Cornell, Oberlin, Stanford, Harvard, etc. 

Paul McNulty was first in modern times to build Pleyel 1830, Boisselot 1846, Streicher 1868 and Chopin’s Warsaw piano, 1826 Buchholtz. Paul McNulty’s current efforts are restoring antique French pianos for the Warsaw Chopin Institute.

Event partner

Lecture: 4 September (Sunday), 9.00 am, Room Universe 1

Broadwood 1846 – reconstruction of the piano

The analysis of the aspects associated with the reconstruction of the instrument above will include:
– The acoustic part
– The case part
– The keyboard mechanis
The discussion will cover the state prior to the changes, the process of alteration and the final outcome of the reconstruction.

Andrzej Włodarczyk – born in 1972 in Warsaw. A graduate of Technical School of Grand Piano Construction in Kalisz (class of 1994) and Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw. He has been running his business “Piano and Grand Piano Workshop Andrzej Wlodarczyk” which specializes in renovations, tunings, expertise, and historical and modern instrument refurbishments. He has completed his internships at Steinway & Sons in Hamburg (2007). Between 2000 and 2006 he lectures at Frederic Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw (Tuning procedures and piano’s construction). For many years he has been an instrument tuner at Frederic Chopin’s Music University. One of the pioneers of Polish Piano Tuners Association (2007). He cooperates with with multiple national institutions i.e. Frederic Chopin National Institute, University of Warsaw, National Philharmonic, The Royal Castle, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw, Grazyna and Kiejstut Bacewicz Music Academy in Łódź, Andrzej Szwalby Collection of Antique Pianos in Ostromeck, The Palace of Chrzesne, Regional Museum of Krosno, American School in Warsaw, Polish Military, Museum of Gdańsk. He conducted the International Frederic Chopin Festival in Duszniki-Zdroj, International Music Festival – Chopin And His Europe, Ad Libitum Festival, International Modern Music Festival “Warsaw Autumn”, Chopin Concerts at Royal Lazienki Park, Floralia Powsin. An initiator of the “The Magic of Antique Pianos in Radzymin” cycle. Piano constructor (two constructed copies of Vienna piano by A. Walter accordingly to a 1795 design and a copy of Krall & Seldler piano inspired by a 1830 design). An owner of the largest Polish private collection of historical pianos currently used for concerts and recordings.

Event partner

Seminar: 4 September (Sunday), 3.30 pm, Room Universe 1

Krall and Seidler – building a copy

An attempt to discuss the methodology of work on recreating the instrument, taking into account techniques and materials (leather, wood, strings, metals). I would like to illustrate both lectures with photos from technological processes and a live presentation of pianos.

Andrzej Włodarczyk – born in 1972 in Warsaw. A graduate of Technical School of Grand Piano Construction in Kalisz (class of 1994) and Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw. He has been running his business “Piano and Grand Piano Workshop Andrzej Wlodarczyk” which specializes in renovations, tunings, expertise, and historical and modern instrument refurbishments. He has completed his internships at Steinway & Sons in Hamburg (2007). Between 2000 and 2006 he lectures at Frederic Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw (Tuning procedures and piano’s construction). For many years he has been an instrument tuner at Frederic Chopin’s Music University. One of the pioneers of Polish Piano Tuners Association (2007). He cooperates with with multiple national institutions i.e. Frederic Chopin National Institute, University of Warsaw, National Philharmonic, The Royal Castle, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw, Grazyna and Kiejstut Bacewicz Music Academy in Łódź, Andrzej Szwalby Collection of Antique Pianos in Ostromeck, The Palace of Chrzesne, Regional Museum of Krosno, American School in Warsaw, Polish Military, Museum of Gdańsk. He conducted the International Frederic Chopin Festival in Duszniki-Zdroj, International Music Festival – Chopin And His Europe, Ad Libitum Festival, International Modern Music Festival “Warsaw Autumn”, Chopin Concerts at Royal Lazienki Park, Floralia Powsin. An initiator of the “The Magic of Antique Pianos in Radzymin” cycle. Piano constructor (two constructed copies of Vienna piano by A. Walter accordingly to a 1795 design and a copy of Krall & Seldler piano inspired by a 1830 design). An owner of the largest Polish private collection of historical pianos currently used for concerts and recordings.

Event partner

Seminar: 4 September (Sunday), 4.30 pm, Room Universe 1

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